Learn tips and tricks from our annual fondue dinner party including printable recipes for the best cheese and chocolate fondue, fondue dipping menu, how to limit last minute food prep, make a party planning schedule, create a classy atmosphere, and ways to help yourself relax and enjoy your guests!
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DIY Fondue Dinner Party
My mom hosted a Christmas cheese and chocolate fondue dinner party every year for as long as I can remember. It was a casual night, but one that kids were not allowed to be a part of. Every year my siblings and I would come home the next day and hope there was just a little bit leftover! There rarely ever was.
Once Zach and I owned our first house I carried on this lovely Christmas tradition. It has become a night we look forward to every year. There are typically 5 to 6 couples that come and the menu offers a little bit of everything. It is a semi-formal occasion sans kiddos, and the food and fellowship never disappoints.
DIY Fondue Dinner Party – The Menu
If you missed my previous posts about the best cheese and chocolate fondue you will ever taste then find the recipes below.
Triple Cheese Fondue Dipping Menu:
- Honey Roasted Carrots
- Smoked Cauliflower
- Italian Steamed Broccoli
- Roasted Potatoes
- Ham, cubed (1 lb)
- Turkey, cubed (1 lb)
- Chicken nuggets (1 bag)
- Mini-sausages (1 lb)
- Artisan bread variety, cubed
Chocoholic Fondue Dipping Menu
- Pretzel rods (1 bag)
- Marshmallows (1 bag)
- Strawberries, quartered (1 quart)
- Butter loaf pound cake, cubed (1 loaf)
- Mini peanut butter Ritz sandwiches (1 box)
- Bananas, thickly sliced (1 lg bunch)
DIY Fondue Dinner Party – The Prep
These tips really apply to any party you are hosting. The key is to work ahead. For those of us whose minds naturally think 10 steps ahead this is not a problem. But for those who struggle to plan, this is essential for a successful and relaxing event. Many things can be done even a day before such as setting your table. Even if you do not have a separate dining room, after dinner the night before, set out all your place settings, tablescape decor and even set out your serving dishes and label what will go in each one.
Have your tablescape ready to go so that all you need to add is the food and the people!
Set out ALL your serving dishes and label them. This also helps you organize your menu.
Another easy way to set up ahead of time is to establish a self-efficient coffee station. Checkout my post on How to Create a Vintage Tea Cart here. I love my tea cart and use it on a regular basis. A coffee percolator and Keurig Coffee maker make for an incredibly easy and hostess friendly DIY hot beverage station. I have a vintage coffee urn from the early 1900s, but I highly recommend the Hamilton Beach Silver Coffee Urn and Keurig’s Classic Coffee Maker for budget friendly additions to your drink station. Coffee urn’s can be set up days in advance with coffee grounds and water and then before dessert just turn it on. Set out your mugs or cups ahead of time and give yourself the freedom to focus on other aspects of your evening. If you don’t have a specific beverage station, use a folding table and put it in the corner for a quick and easy DIY beverage station.
Another easy pre-party set up is your cocktail bar if you plan on having one. Below was our basement cocktail station.
Another tip that will make an event easier, especially if it becomes a reoccurring one, is to have an all inclusive menu planning sheet. This paper sits in a clear plastic cover to protect it year after year, and it has all the recipes I make for our fondue dinner party. There are stickies for each dipper I prepare, a list of what other people are bringing and the amounts, and notes from year to year or adjustments I have made. This makes creating a shopping list a breeze instead of flipping through several cookbooks to find your recipes and create your lists.
Once you have your list, a key step to successful prep is to buy as many groceries ahead of time that you can. I am a HUGE fan of deep freezers. They make life so much easier, and I think many people under-utilize theirs. You would be amazed how much you can deep freeze for weeks, thaw overnight, and prepare without any noticeable difference in taste or texture.
Cheese for example. I bought all of my cheese at Costco two weeks ahead of time when I was making my normal Costco trip. I put them in the deep freezer, thawed overnight, and voila, no last minute hour long trip (let’s be honest more like 2 hours) to Costco.
So. Much. Yummy. Cheese.
DIY Fondue Dinner Party – The Planning Schedule
My party schedule is not fancy, BUT IT WORKS. It creates a stress free event. Two sticky notes on my all-inclusive party prep sheet have a to-do list for the day before and things to do the day of. The day of is timed out, and I have learned to stick to it or else it is easy to get behind, and ultimately, feel stressed! Listen, hosting becomes overwhelming if every party results in a panicked feeling that you are not ready when the door bell starts to ring. Quality time with your guests is a lot easier to enjoy when the rest of the evening is set up to take care of itself.
DIY Fondue Dinner Party – The Atmosphere
For any party, one of the first things I use to set the atmosphere is music. Christmas party – Christmas music, birthday party – appropriate birthday music (for Zach it’s country, for me it’s coffee shop chill, kids it’s Steven Curtis Chapman etc), pool party – beach themed etc. Easy, easy, easy, but I am telling you it makes all the difference. Think about local commercials on the tv. What often makes them feel so cheesy? There isn’t any music! Music is the best way to set the mood.
Another is candles. Ok. I love my candles. The kids and Daddy were on candle duty prep. This is typically their job for any event we are hosting. Here they are replacing all my tealights. At the moment this picture was taken they were on #31 and counting. Love candles – tea lights, battery powered, classic tapers, pillars. Love them all.
Along with the candle idea is dimmed lighting. It is ideal to have accent lighting on dimmers to help set the mood. For an evening party, low lighting helps to create a slightly cozier and more formal setting. For a kids birthday party, you may not want a dark house! Dimmers help give you these options. Most any light switch can be replaced with a dimming option such as the one here. If you missed 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen, I specifically address the importance of lighting. It’s an article jam packed with practical tips and tricks!
Your front entrance will be the first opportunity to help set the mood. If you missed our Christmas Front Porch Tour check it out here!
These glass shades were re-purposed from the old dining room chandelier in the Victorian we flipped. The tea lights inside cast a gorgeous flicker on the wall through the pressed glass which is so hard to capture on a picture. If you missed the Vintage Victorian Dining Room Renovation you can read it here.
DIY Fondue Dinner Party – The Guests
All of the above tips will contribute to a relaxing evening of food and fellowship, but ultimately, the best tip that I can give – remember that it is always about the people. Surround yourself with guests you enjoy, whose conversation brings life, and will leave you feeling that the time spent preparing was well worth the effort.